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Forgive and Forgive

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NORTHEAST HOUSTON COMMUNITY CHURCH

Sermon – Forgive and Forgive

Scripture –     Matt 18:21-35

8-3-08

Matt 18:21-35

21 Then Peter came to Him and said, "Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?" 22 Jesus said to him, "I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.  23 Therefore the kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants.  24 And when he had begun to settle accounts, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents.  25 But as he was not able to pay, his master commanded that he be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and that payment be made.  26 The servant therefore fell down before him, saying, 'Master, have patience with me, and I will pay you all.'  27 Then the master of that servant was moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt. 28 "But that servant went out and found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and he laid hands on him and took him by the throat, saying, 'Pay me what you owe!'  29 So his fellow servant fell down at his feetand begged him, saying, 'Have patience with me, and I will pay you all.' 30 And he would not, but went and threw him into prison till he should pay the debt.  31 So when his fellow servants saw what had been done, they were very grieved, and came and told their master all that had been done.  32 Then his master, after he had called him, said to him, 'You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me.  33 Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?'  34 And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him. 35 "So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses."NKJV

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This message today is one that I at first did not see yet it has been in front of me for the last few days.  Just Friday I received a phone call from a person with questions about forgiveness but indicated that they could not get over the hurt they felt by the actions of another person but they felt compelled to forgive them.

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On Thursday I was asked a question by phone dealing with the forgiveness of God and once we were saved were we always saved. Or to put it another way, once God has forgiven us are we always forgiven.  Neither of these individuals are members of this church.

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I do recall spending a significant amount of time during Bible Study in Matt 18, when we covered this chapter and of course some of you may have missed it. For the last several weeks we have been looking at the life of David and we discussed how although David’s sins were forgiven He still suffered it consequences.

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It seems to be a topic that many Christians find themselves dealing with. I hope you will allow me to take another stab at explaining what I believe the scriptures are very clear about and for those that missed it I hope it will answer most of your questions.

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If you were to study Matt 18 you will see that there are several examples relating to sin. First let me define sin.

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Definition – Sin 1 a: an offense against religious or moral law 2a: transgression of the law of God.

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We can say that a sin is an action that breaks or transgresses a law set up by God, then that is a sin against God. A sin could also mean the transgression of a law of a particular religion then that could be a sin against that religion. For example some religions consider it a sin for a woman to have her face uncovered in public. Then there is the transgression or offense associated with a moral law. For example being lied to, borrowing and not paying back.

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My sense of sin is any offense or transgression of the expectations that God has concerning me whether it refers to my worship, my treatment of my fellow man or moral standards set by God. Forgiveness is not a natural act for a person, not even a Christian person. It requires sacrifice of our own feelings and pride. But we know as Christians it is expected of us.

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Matt 18 Has several example on how to deal with sin, each can be a sermon within itself, but I want to focus on the forgiveness aspect of sin.

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First of all I believe that forgiveness is a three-step event.

Step 1:  It must first be acknowledge

Step 2: Then it can be asked for,

Step 3: then it can be given and

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I am not convinced that complete forgiveness can happen if a person who believes that they have been wronged tells the other that they forgive them. That borders on a person being prideful and condescending. If my three-step requirement is true then only step two has been done. Forgiveness was never asked for nor was it accepted. I will try to apply this as we go along.

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Our passage opens with my good friend Peter asking a question that I believe others were thinking. "Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?"

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Peter knew forgiveness was expected of him but like most of us we want to know shouldn’t there be a limit. Some commentators believe that Peter was thinking of:   

Prov 24:16           16 For a just mall shall fall seven times and shall rise again:

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But let’s look above and see what prompted Peters Question   

Matt 18:15-17 15 "Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother.  16 But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that 'by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.' 17 And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector. NKJV

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There is a significant difference between a person sinning against God and against another person.  Here the sin is a brother against another brother.

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First we are required to tell that brother or sister his or her fault as you see it. Perhaps there was just a misunderstanding or an unintentional hurt caused. Or maybe you took something wrong. But let us assume the sin is a valid one.

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If he/she refuses to acknowledge the sin then “let him be like a heathen and a tax collector”. In effect stop dealing with that person.

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I do not see a command to forgive that person. How does my three-step formula hold up? It didn’t make it to the first step.

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Peter asked how many time should I forgive, 7? Jesus said seventy times seven. That does not mean only 490 times but an indefinite amount.

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 Let’s look at the parable Jesus told 

Matt 18:26-27 26 The servant therefore fell down before him, saying, 'Master, have patience with me, and I will pay you all.'  27 Then the master of that servant was moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt.  NKJV

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Step 1: the wrong must first be acknowledge – the servant acknowledge the debt

Step 2: Then it can be asked for, - 'Master, have patience with me’

Step 3: then it can be given – the master forgave him the debt

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But he did not do the same for his fellow servant. He stopped at step 2

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I want you to take another look at this instruction of Jesus recorded by St. Luke   

Luke 17:3-4     3 Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you,* rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him4 And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to you,* saying, 'I repent,' you shall forgive him." NKJV

 

Step 1:           It must first be acknowledge – if he repents.

Step 2:          Then it can be asked for, - returns to you,* saying, 'I repent.

Step 3:          then it can be given and - you shall forgive him.

The Christian is compelled to forgive every time he is asked, but he is not required to expose himself or herself to constant abuse.

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I want to apply this formula to one more example that at first I did not think it fit the equation.    

Luke 23:34      34 Then Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do."* NKJV

Step 1:       It must first be acknowledge – Jesus acknowledged the sin of the executioners and His authority alone was enough.

Step 2:      Then it can be asked for, - Forgiveness was asked for by Jesus and He had the power to do so.

Step 3:      then it can be given and – I believe God, on the request of Jesus forgave them.

   

John 11:22      22 But even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You." NKJV

   

John 11:42      42 And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me. KJV

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You can work through the steps with the thief on the cross.

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What about you and me with God? God’s standard is the proper standard.

1 John 1:9-10  9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. NKJV

 

Step 1:           It must first be acknowledge – If we confess our sins

Step 2:          Then it can be asked for, - If we confess our sins

Step 3:          then it can be given and - He is faithful and just to forgive

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Today is communion Sunday. We remember the sacrifice of our Lord for the forgiveness of our sins. His sacrifice not only gives us forgiveness before God but also to give us eternal life.

Step 1: Our sins must first be acknowledge – First we must confess our sins

Step 2: Then it can be asked for, - We can only ask if we believe and receive.

Step 3: Then it can be given and -      He will forgive our sins in the Name of Jesus.

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Our standard of forgiving should be the standard set by God. He is always ready to forgive. All we have to do is ask for it in truth and repent.

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We must be ready to forgive our brothers and sisters by just them asking us to in sincerity. If they don’t ask we must have a forgiving spirit and not a vengeful one.

V35 "So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses."*

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As we have learned with David, a man truly loved by God, forgiveness does not mean the absence of consequences.

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Part of the consequences of sins against each other may be the lack of trust again. But do not cling to the hurt. Keep looking to God and the pain will pass.

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The sin can be forgiven but the debt must still be paid. Jesus paid the debt, He paid it all. Let us forgive as we have been forgiven. When God forgives He remembers our sins no more.

END


 

Power of Forgiveness

There is a story of an incorrigible soldier who had been punished so often for so many offenses, without avail, that his commanding officer despaired of the man's amendment. Again he was under arrest, and the officer spoke hopelessly of him, asking what more could be done to save him from his own undoing. A fellow-officer suggested, "Try forgiving him." The man was brought in and asked what he had to say for himself. He replied: "Nothing, except that I'm very sorry." "Well," said the officer, "we have decided to forgive you." The man stood dazed for a moment and then burst into tears, saluted, and went out to become the best and bravest soldier in the command.


 

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Ps 86:1-10

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